Michael, you're in good company. Jesus Christ never let go of his regard for Judaism and taught that no one was to teach others to neglect the Law. He also, in most un-advaitic fashion--maintained a conversational, inter-subjective relationship with the Creator until he died. After rising from the dead, he continued to speak of his Father, as though that was something different from his true self. Silly guy! He carried his delusion into the afterlife!
Delusion? Don't quite agree. His crucifiction (as BRoberts notes) is the complete falling away of the unitive centre. Christ never let go of his regard for Judaism? I don't agree. He healed people on the Sabbath and he did highly unconventional things for his time (didn't he turn over the tables at the temple?). Of course he maintained a relationship with the creator, as did Ramana Maharshi. This is not incongruent with most advaita systems. Maharshi constantly advocated the practice of prayer to those who needed it. To those who didn't, he told them simply to do vichara or self-enquiry.
Pure Christianity is advaitic and the Old testament "I am that I am" summarizes the state of enlightenment and Christ's utterence "I and my father are one," is the falling away of the unitive centre and falls into the enlightenment pathways of all traditions, imo.
In a previous post, I stated that Ramakrishna (who had the non-dual vision...see for instance, his taking a sword in his imagination and taking off the head of Kali, and his subsequent dissolution in the no-self. When he returned he maintained a relationship with Kali.)
One must aim for the highest and then the highest will guide that person to the right relationship to the Divine. Christ obviously "spoke" to the Father after the dissolving of the unitive centre, but that is individual. Maharshi didn't talk to the father etc etc. So don't pigeon-hole people who practice advaita!;o) I did allude to God be illusory, in the sense that our conceptions of God as defined by doctrine, books, and generally false manipulation of imagination (astral levels) are false. What the Christians call "infused contemplation" is much closer to God and probably right relationship with the divine. However, I wouldn't stop there and form a doctrine around infused contemplation or even the awakening and integration of the unitive self. I think this is the beginning of a fully functional loveable person. "I and my Father are One." is something radically different than the unitive state, imo.
This always happens: people with a little Eastern religion in them look around and re-interpret everything in terms of an Eastern paradigm. All I can say is that you're wrong when you say "pure Christianity is advaitic" or that Christianity is about enlightenment. We're on page 4 of this thread and I've tried my best to clarify this, but don't seem to be getting anywhere.
Since you site Bernadette Roberts, click here to read an assessment of her work by Jim Arraj. I have a review of "The Experience of No-Self" on Amazon.com that might also interest you.
In Christianity, we believe that it is Jesus Christ who reveals to us the true nature of God and the true destiny of human beings. After his crucifixion, he rises from the dead and manifests through his crucified body. He is still an individual--Jesus; his wounds remain; he speaks of the Father as One to Whom he will return. Even after he ascends and lives in glory, he appears to Paul on the road to Damascus and reveals himself as Jesus, who is now identified with his Church. The individual, human soul that was Jesus became fully incorporated into the Word, Who is the Second Person of the Trinity. As the incarnate Word, Jesus and the Father are One, but not as in one-and-the-same-person. Rather, they share One Nature. That's how we understand those sayings. We do not see Jesus ever losing his humanity, his individuality, nor even his body. Other religions do not believe this, which is why they are different religions. So the decisive question is where one stands with respect to what Christians say Jesus has revealed. If one says thinks Ramakrishna or Ramana Maharishi know better, then that's where one should go. To my knowledge, however, they did not rise from the dead.
Ok, with my bible tied behind my back and just
relying on memory, what stages did Christ himself go
through as the ultimate paradigm of the spiritual journey?
Catechism class at age 12 where He demonstrated an amazing ability to actually astound his teachers.
Learned a trade
Got the call to ministry at age 30
Night of Sense purification for 40 days he faced down most of his human condition and demonstated victory over temptation
Announced his Divine Purpose to the world
Healings,nature miracles, and authoritative teachings and mystical gifts such as precognition,
mind reading, power over sickness and devils, and scripture proofs of His Supreme Identity and Purpose.
Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah verify his
His mystic calling rejected by family, freinds, family and disciples.
Surrender to His destiny and Dark Night of the soul.
Rejected by civil and religious authorities and execution as criminal.
Abandonment by God and Night of Spirit.
Death and descent into the underworld.
Victory over Death, Sin and the Adversary.
He passes the torch to his disciples and commissions them to call others as disciples.
Returns to the Father.
It seems to me that a Christian's destiny is to pass through similar stages of enlightenment
Very good, Michael. I don't know, however, that it's appropriate to relate the Dark Nights to Jesus. I know Keating and others have done so, but when you consider that so much of the Dark Nights are cleansings of the false self and its roots, this wouldn't apply to Jesus. I've shared this with Fr. Keating and he acknowledged as much, but of course, what he's written has remained on these points. I rather think of his time in the desert as a time of discernment after his Baptism, and the abandonment on the Cross as his absorption into the sinfulness of the race. (see 2 Cor. 5: 21).
Phil. I appreciate all your comments and your viewpoint) I have to laugh at my vehemence about this. I also hate how many Hindu's group all religions into one, so I can sort of concur with you on this angle. So many ambiguities, that I can never say "I am right, or you are wrong)" So I understand your view point as well and stangely enough can agree with both my view point and yours.
On a certain level I have an idea that the No Self is the highest (or most natural?) experience possible for a human being. So I have much much regard/respect for people that have gone through the unitive to see it fall away. I compare this view point with someone who stands ontop of a mountain and can see all the levels of consciousness and not neglect one. I remember a really cool story of Marashi: someone said (paraphrasing): "I am going to hell...etc." The Marharshi simply said "I am there too." So I see these "pioneers" as standing ontop of a mountain and simulateously on all levels of consciousness. This view point differs from the interior/exterior dicotomy that seems to characterize the unitive state. I tend to give more importance to those who abide in the Self, like I belive Christ did.
But really, I agree that Christianity is uniquely it's own path up until a certain point.
What does that mean? There's no other religion that has anything like Christ's death, resurrection and ascension and you can't go beyond the ascended Christ because that's full immersion in God. Christianity is totally unique up to the farthest point.
You seem to have an agenda to want to downplay the significance of the Christian revelation and to evangelize for Hinduism. Am I reading you correctly?
A good Christian website should always have a resident Bible basher - allow me to take on that much-maligned role.
I think it's essential to consider scripture when trying to define the essence of Christianity. Michael's summary of Christ's life was timely and really, obviously, Christ is the heart of the faith. He is what makes it different from any other religion and therefore it's necessary to go to scripture to find out what it actually says about Him. This involves shedding any bias that experience, philosophy or involvement with other religious systems may bring to our understanding.
(I note that Paramhansa Yogananda interpreted scripture with a heavy Hindu hand and thus muddled up what Christ and Christianity was all about - can't be done! )
Read, for example, Isaiah 53:
"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquity; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."
That is what the crucifixion is all about. No more, no less.
Similarly, John 3:
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life."
John's gospel is a treasure trove of Christ centredness and divine revelation.
The only influence upon our reading of these passages should be the Holy Spirit, not what we know or think we know, or what we've been taught. The Holy Spirit will open the eyes of our understanding and the eyes of our heart. And once the beauty of Christ is apparent then the fundamentals (ooh that word ) of the faith - salvation, deliverance, sanctfication, holiness, love, the incarnation, the trinity etc. - stand out on their own, set apart from, uncoloured by any twist that Eastern religion or personal experience brings. I really believe in Holy Spirit revelation as the only means of grasping and embracing Christianity.
(And what about all those Levitical offerings? - pictures of Christ's passion and vicarious death. )
mlk, I agree with you that Christianity is unique from beginning to end. Where we "end up" is fully immersed in the Trinity with Christ, still individual souls with our own unique stories, but without the separating influences of sin. It is a marvelous synthesis, affirming profound unity and diversity simultaneously.
Stephen, we welcome good Bible-thumping reflections here, so thank you. It's been my experience as well that without the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of one's mind and heart, the great truths expressed in the Christian doctrines don't make a whole lot of sense. What one sees in the light of the Spirit is that the reason those doctrines exist is because Spirit-filled people "compared notes," as it were, and were moved to provide a teaching to help both form people in the faith, and to provide a yardstick against which those claiming private revelation could test themselves.
"He who is not against us is for us." - Jesus
These words are difficult for me to understand and assimilate. Yogananda and his teacher quoted the Christian scriptures extensively, and used them in their tachings. Yogananda is still going strong after decades. Gandhi revered Christ and kept a picture of him. Some teachers from India claim superiority, but just as many have little problem with most of Jesus teachings. The first time I took the beliefnet's belief-o-matic quiz and came up Hindu,
I could not understand how this could have happened, but the beliefs are not as worlds apart as one might imagine.
No, I have no agenda to evangelize Hinduism. I am not a Hindu. However, there are stories in Hinduism that also mimic the resurrection and the ascension of Christ Jesus. Babaji is one example, as is Sri Yukteswar, as is Lahiri Mahasaya. However, this does not undermine Christ's uniqueness. I know he is unique, as are the Hindu saints who attained the same state.
There are many things about Christianity that are unique, however I would argue that the falling away of the unitive self leads to its merging with advaita vedanta, sufi notions of "fauna," Buddhist notions etc. This fact is most aptly demonstrated in the life of Sri Ramakrishna who practiced Christianity and found that it led to the same state of dissolution of self (Nirvikalpa) as in the Tantric, Advaitic, Sufi, Krishna pathways. Ramakrishna is one of the most respected saints of India--and I trust him more than any theology written by people with little understanding of inner states. That includes the disciple's of Christ who showed no demonstration of this state. And it also includes people who live in the unitive state.
Thank you for explaining how you are not evangelizing for Hinduism.
Thanks for understanding!
You seem to be implying that Christ attained "a state" like many of the Hindu saints...
Teachings from Christian scripture assert that Christ was born the "only begotten Son of God", that he came from above and returned above to the glory He had with the Father before the creation of the world (again, it's all in John's gospel). It's really necessary to grasp the notion that Christ is part of the trinity, part of a triune Godhead if Christianity is to be understood. "He who knew no sin, became sin."
There is a fundamental difference between the Hindu notion of divine avatars and the idea of Christ as "God manifest in flesh", simply because of the nature of God as a triune personality. Christ as God's son manifests Himself in the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord, appearing to Abraham and others - testament to His eternal Sonship.
His mission on earth was not to attain any state but to do the work of His father and bring the word of truth; to die and bear the sins of the whole of humanity, something only a perfect(not perfected) creature, "in whom was no sin" could do. On the cross He became sin while maintaining his intrinsic perfection and holiness. Indeed, during his sacrificial death, the Father turned His back on the Son - "My God, my God, why do you forsake me?" Also, His baptism in the Holy Spirit is not indicative of any sort of attainment or realisation but simply the display of His unity with the Godhead following an act needed "to fulfil all righteousness". (Note John the Baptist's opposition to His baptism).
He is seen in Hebrews as "His son ... who made the worlds" and " the express image of (God's) person", and in Colossians as "The image of the invisible God ... in whom all the FULLNESS of the Godhead was pleased to dwell."
Hey, I'm preaching at you, I'm evangelising, but you can take it, right?
I see these truths as being fundamentally different from comparative examples in Hinduism or any other religion, and at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, see the potential for Satanic mimicry in religion, and that includes within Christianity itself! Now that's controversial!!!
Trusting Hindu saints rather than the disciples of Christ is, of course, your prerogative, but it brings into question the importance of self realisation or self dissolution over immersion in the Holy Spirit, under whose influence, and in whose fullness, the disciples set down Holy Scripture:
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."
The priorities of the disciples were different from Hindu saints and the fact that they displayed human frailty and indecision while maintaining a unique link to the word of God is more of an encouragement to the likes of myself.
these are your opinions and are great. I just happen not to agree with them.
"Trusting Hindu saints rather than the disciples of Christ is, of course, your prerogative, but it brings into question the importance of self realisation or self dissolution over immersion in the Holy Spirit, under whose influence, and in whose fullness, the disciples set down Holy Scripture"
Most Hindu saints teach about the decending and ascending currents. The decending Grace, I equate with the Holy Spirit. With it comes Peace, Light, Understanding, Force, Presence. The ascending current is very dependent on the path a person is on. For some it awakens at the base of the spine, on other paths (like Irina Tweedie accounts on her Sufic journey) it awakens in the heart because more purification has been done in the decent phase.
I concur that the Christian "energy" is decidedly different than the Hindu energy. It has a completely unique flavor. People that walk on Christ's path will feel the stages of life unfold in them much like Christ experienced them. BRoberts emphasizes the path of suffering for the very reason that Christ's path seems to emphasize this angle and Christ Himself will most likely incarnate himself in his disciple in very occultly and spiritually specific way. In contrast, the Hindu saint's (take Yogananda, for instance) emphasize the bliss aspect.
Often the Christian path of suffering leads to bliss, or freedom from self, as the Fools for Christ's sake demonstrate, as do various phenomona like the stigmata. It is identification with the historical Christ that leads to these phenomenom. Whereas, the Hindu saints focus on the bliss and trancendent aspects and this usually brings them back in the realm of "suffering." Christian and Hindu are, for the most part, flip sides of the same coin in my opinion at this point. And in the enlightenment phase of both paths, as seen through Eckhart and Roberts, they stand on top of the mountain and see the sun set at a slightly different angle, but this is usually just linguistics, the actual experience turns out to be the same.
The rest of what you say is theology which I don't happen to agree with. If it strengthens your faith, love and service than it can only be right for you.
Asher, I should tell you that Bernadette Roberts and Eckhart are not the best representatives of Christian mystical theology (did you even read the link to Jim Arraj's critique of Bernadette I posted above? Doesn't sound like it.). So when you relate their experience to Hinduism and say, they stand on top of the mountain and see the sun set at a slightly different angle than other paths, but this is usually just linguistics, the actual experience turns out to be the same, that's problemmatic. Bernadette and Eckhart might have had enlightenment experiences, but it doesn't follow from this that enlightenment is somehow above contemplation or that this proves the distinctions between Christianity and Hinduism turn out to be linguistic.
Several posts above, you write: There are many things about Christianity that are unique, however I would argue that the falling away of the unitive self leads to its merging with advaita vedanta, sufi notions of "fauna," Buddhist notions etc.
I would agree, only I do not think it correct to say that this falling away of the unitive self is what Christ experienced at his crucifixion (Bernadette's interpretation) or that he entered advaita. Furthermore, in the history of Christian mysticism, ONLY Bernadette Roberts has written this, which begs the question of why you should use her as your source to prove your point.
This fact is most aptly demonstrated in the life of Sri Ramakrishna who practiced Christianity and found that it led to the same state of dissolution of self (Nirvikalpa) as in the Tantric, Advaitic, Sufi, Krishna pathways.
First, let's be clear that Ramakrishna never really practied Christianity. I've read several biographies on his life and am aware of his Christian phase and encounters with Christ. He was never a disciple of Christ, however, nor was he baptized or belonged to a Christian community. He also considered himself an avatar during this phase, which means he considered himself on an equal plane with Christ, who was simply a Jewish avatar. There's nothing here remotely close to "practicing Christianity." That Ramakrishna ended up concluding that Christianity led to the same place he'd already been shouldn't be surprising as, from where I sit, it seems that was the whole point of his fling with Christianity to begin with.
You go on, gushingly: Ramakrishna is one of the most respected saints of India--and I trust him more than any theology written by people with little understanding of inner states. That includes the disciple's of Christ who showed no demonstration of this state. And it also includes people who live in the unitive state.
So you're really a Ramakrishnite! Fine with me, only let's be clear that you're basing your decisions more on the inner states reported by Ramakrishna than on the revelation of God and human destiny brought by Jesus Christ. If that's the decisive criterion for you, go for it. Only see that's what you're doing, and maybe ask yourself if that ought to be a sufficient criterion for making such evaluations.
Another doozy: I am not a Hindu. However, there are stories in Hinduism that also mimic the resurrection and the ascension of Christ Jesus. Babaji is one example, as is Sri Yukteswar, as is Lahiri Mahasaya. However, this does not undermine Christ's uniqueness. I know he is unique, as are the Hindu saints who attained the same state.
You're just plain wrong about that . . . sorry to be so blunt, but you are. "Mimicing" the resurrection and ascension is not the same as the real thing. Furthermore, you really ARE a Hindu, as your comments about Ramakrishna above make clear.
OK, I'm done (or hope to be) with this exchange. As noted in a post above, it generally goes nowhere, and I think there's ample evidence of that on this thread as well. Nevertheless, I'm glad that we've gone through the excercise, even though I've already done this several times on this forum and on other web sites. Now I don't have to do it again . . . the wonder of hyperlinks.
I am not a "Ramakrishnite" whatever that means. I was done with this exchange as well. I have read Ramakrishna's books, but never been initiated into any Hindu order) Just so you don't jump the gun here.
I simply trust souls that have experienced these states more than I do theologians and the writer's of scripture.
And in terms of BRoberts not being the best representative of Christian thology--that's your opinion. She will be recognized in the future, I hope, as a Christian and not a Buddhist.
One doesn't need to go to a church to practice. I believe Ramakrishna was locked out of the church (lol). He did practice, but not in a conventional way. So what? Christ and Peter came to him. Or is Ramakrishna delusional?
There's no point in discussing this with righteous people so firm in their belief.
The thing that scares most Christians, even Christians that live in the unitive state, is that this falling away of self is
1) irreversible. It is not simply a passing experience, as some people think it is.
2) it will really downplay theology, which is why Christians in this state haven't written about it. In this sense, Robert's is courageous indeed.
I know a Christian who is very faithful to precepts and goes to Church everyday. When I gave her Robert's book, she told me secretly that she has lived in the no-self since she was in her twenties. She said that she thought it was normal so she didn't really think twice of it.
Whenever I asked her a question about theology, he inevitable answer would be "I don't know." This not knowing does not come from a lack of faith, but from someone who lives profoundly in the moment and doesn't concern herself with doctrines, although she is an avid reader of scripture and pious, pious woman. She has also compared Christ's realization to Hindu saints and even took on a Hindu Master for a while, without initiation. The Hindu Master immediately saw that she was a disciple of Christ, and had a vision of Christ blessing her. So she continues to see this Master as well as going to Church every day and reading scripture. She said that it is difficult for her to pray, as everything happens spontaneously in consciousness itself.
When it comes to metaphysical questions, I think a good dose of agnosticism is healthy for the Christian.
That said, there is indeed a difference between the Christian and Hindu understandings of the unitive state, especially as regards the end, or purpose, of seeking "enlightenment."
Bede Griffiths, who was my own gateway into the contemplative life, spoke often of this difference. Here is what he once said during an interview with Jim Arraj:
"I feel the danger of Hindu mysticism is to retire into an inner reality of infinite riches and beauty and so on, but it doesn�t relate you to others, and the danger of the sannyasi in India is he is not really concerned with other people. That�s why you can meet people dying in the streets of Calcutta and not worry much about it. It�s part of karma, it�s part of samsari, the way of the world, and you believe that eventually these people will come to a better state, but you are concerned with this union with the supreme in the depths of your being. It�s a wonderful experience, but it�s not love, you see."
Granted, some Hindus, Gandhi and Vivekananda among them, have endeavored to extend the "fruits" of their contemplation to helping others (the poor). Both men, however, and by their own admission, did so after having witnessed the concern that Christians had for the poor. Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission after his visit to the U.S., where he had been impressed by the Christians' works of charity.
This is not to say that Christianity is superior to Hinduism. It simply is indicative that Hindus have as much to learn from the West as the West has to learn from them.
I developed a friendship a couple of years ago with the head of the local Vedanta Society here. I visited him weekly for a long time. He is an American convert, an octogenarian who has been a swami in the Ramakrishna Order since the 1940s. Whenever I mentioned Bede Griffiths, however, this swami would have a fit. He would repeat old charges, made by Sita Ram Goel and others, that Bede was simply a sly missionary who wore indigenous dress in order to attract converts to Christianity.
Yet, whenever I asked him to support his claims, he always quoted from Fr. Bede's earliest works. I tried to explain to him that Bede's views progressed over time (he was surprised to learn, for instance, that near the end of his life Fr. Bede had compiled a "world bible" of sorts, entitled Universal Wisdom). And I gave him a copy of Beyond the Darkness, Shirley du Boulay's biography of Bede. But he wasn't interested in reading it. He simply railed against Bede, saying things like "Why couldn't Bede be more like Henri le Saux [Abhishiktananda]?"
I guess prejudice runs on both sides.
I guess it depends on what people mean by "self." I read BR years ago and never knew what she meant. There's still an individual person there, still action taking place. Someone wrote those books of hers; someone brushes her teeth, eats breakfast, goes to work, talks to people. She makes decisions disagrees with people. If there's no self doing all that, then what? Are you saying she was "possessed by God" and God was living her life?
Stephen and Phil noted that Christ's individual human identity and even his body were brought into the resurrection. That's not just theology, which you seem to disdain; it's the Christian revelation. I'll take that for my reference before other's inner states, which might not even have anything to do with God for all we know. Just because they have visions of Jesus doesn't mean anything.
From what I understand, the major difference between Christianity and Eastern mysticism is Christianity emphasises a union at the level of the will that flows over into the rest of our being; Eastern mysticism emphasizes a unity of being, that our being and God's are really only one thing, and that we are deluded because we don't know that (and the intllect is the great enemy because it makes that distinction).
I'm not convinced that losing your self or coming into a Hindu non-dual state is even an experience of God. Maybe it's just a perspective of the deep part of the soul, as someone noted. Look at the kind of world Hinduism gave rise to and ask yourself how much it reveals God and develops human nature. Not much, I don't think.
mlk212 writes: "Look at the kind of world Hinduism gave rise to and ask yourself how much it reveals God and develops human nature. Not much, I don't think."
Careful, there. That little exercise can be used against Christianity as well.
I was just reading the red letters, the words attributed to Christ in Saint Matthew's Gospel.
These words are so powerful, authoritative and filled with mystery and awe and wonder.
"No man ever thus spake.", remarked one observer. "This man speaks with authority, and not as the scribes and Pharisees." Said another.
This is the voice of God and not man. We tend to discuss very high teachings, but which could you
find to approach the Son of Man? <*))))>< mm
It could, but I'm sure 2,000 years of Christianity has much more to show for it than 3,000 years of Hinduism. It's really no contest.
As for the Moslem world, don't get me started.
" guess it depends on what people mean by "self." I read BR years ago and never knew what she meant. There's still an individual person there, still action taking place. Someone wrote those books of hers; someone brushes her teeth, eats breakfast, goes to work, talks to people. She makes decisions disagrees with people. If there's no self doing all that, then what? Are you saying she was "possessed by God" and God was living her life?"
Like I said, "I read BR years ago" and read that quote and a lot of others like it when I did. You didn't answer the rest of my quote and neither does she.
I read this review by Jim Arraj that was posted as a link on this thread. You should read it. Just in case you don't, here's part of it. If I'm out of line posting it, Phil can tell me.
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